…many SMEs fail not due to lack of innovation, but skills and training For sustainable results skills development among BRICS countries the private sector and government. This is particularly true for South Africa, which has set itself the target of accelerating programmes to grow the economy and create sustainable jobs over the next half decade.

There is a general consensus that the private sector and government should work together to empower the people through relevant skills to become entrepreneurs and to start and grow their own businesses. SMEs hold the key to creating more employment opportunities and unleash the growth as they tend to be labour intensive rather than capital intensive.

In terms of the BRICS business landscape, South Africa and India have a young population which is largely unskilled. South Africa, for instance, faces a more pressing need to accelerate the creation of labour intensive industries to accommodate a burgeoning contingent of young people that face the daily reality of unemployment.

CEO of Softline/Sage in Africa, Australia, Middle East and Asia Ivan Epstein listed challenges related to skills development among the impediments that militate against SME growth in South Africa. “We have noticed a demand in South Africa for this level of support for SMEs. “We believe that many small businesses fail not due to a lack of innovation, but rather because they don’t have access to this sort of skills development and training to help create and run a successful business.” He called on big business to come to the party and work with government to promote the possibilities of entrepreneurship to the youth. “One of the major barriers to the success of SMEs in South Africa is education and skills development. We believe that there’s plenty of scope to further drive interest in entrepreneurship at schools and universities, as well as in the workplace” he told Money Matters.

Epstein insists that skills shortages must be addressed as a matter of urgency because SMEs growth is a sure game-changer as this sector is good at promoting inclusive ownership of the economy and gives previously marginalised people an opportunity to participate in wealth creation. “As government and business, we need to work together to close this gap,” Epstein told Money Matters. “As a company that has years of experience in providing business solutions to thousands of SMEs, we believe we could work closely with government to stimulate increased entrepreneurial activity, and to help existing SMEs to thrive.” He listed the major challenges that SMEs face to include regulatory compliance, access to finance, skills development and mentoring.